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Abuse of ADHD drugs soaring among teens

August 24, 2009 6:01:37 AM PDT
A new study suggests the abuse of drugs prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is soaring among teenagers.Researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center collected data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The calls were made over a seven year period from 1998-2005 and came from a variety of people including parents and emergency room doctors.

According to the study, calls to those poison control centers concerning teens and misuse of ADHD drugs surged 76 percent during that time period. The number of calls increased from 330 to 581 annually. Four deaths were among the cases reviewed in the study.

It's unclear if the teens in question were actually diagnosed with ADHD.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the most commonly prescribed medications are stimulants, including Adderall and Ritalin. The medications have a calming effect on people with ADHD and help them focus.

But many young people who have not been diagnosed with ADHD are taking the prescription medications as a recreational drug in order to get high, help them study, or help them lose weight because stimulants suppress appetite.

Side effects of the drugs include rapid heartbeat and extremely high blood pressure.

The new study can be found in the August edition of Pediatrics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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